Colorado lacks the most basic protections for women’s health and the unborn. It does not require informed consent for abortion or that abortion clinics meet minimal standards for patient care. It is also in the minority of states that do not maintain a fetal homicide law recognizing an unborn child as a potential crime victim.
- A physician may not perform an abortion on a minor under the age of 18 until at least 48 hours after written notice has been given to her parents, unless the parents waive the notice requirement, the minor declares she is a victim of abuse or neglect by a party entitled to notice and the abuse has been reported by the physician, there is a medical emergency, or the minor obtains a court order. Substitute notice of a grandparent, aunt, or uncle is permitted if the minor lives with him or her.
- Only licensed physicians using accepted medical procedures may perform abortions.
- Colorado has an enforceable abortion reporting law, but does not require the reporting of information to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The measure pertains to both surgical and nonsurgical abortions.
- The Colorado Constitution prohibits public funds from being used to pay for an abortion except when the abortion is necessary to preserve the woman’s life. However, a federal court has declared this provision, along with two related statutes, in conflict with federal law. Currently, the state follows the federal standard for Medicaid funding for abortions, only permitting the use of federal or state matching Medicaid funds for abortions necessary to preserve the life of the woman or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
- Organizations that provide abortions are prohibited from receiving state family planning funds.
- School-based health clinics cannot provide abortion services.
- The Colorado Attorney General has issued an opinion stating that group health insurance provided for state employees must exclude coverage for abortion.
- Colorado requires that death certificates indicate whether a woman was pregnant at the time of her death.
Legal Recognition and Protection of Unborn and Newly Born:
- Actions by a third party designed to “intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with extreme indifference terminate or attempt to terminate a woman’s pregnancy” are a felony in Colorado. The state also imposes enhanced criminal penalties for an assault on a pregnant woman. However, Colorado law does not recognize the unborn child as the second (and separate) victim of a crime.
- Colorado allows a parent or other relative to bring a wrongful death (civil) lawsuit when a viable unborn child is killed through the negligent or criminal act of another.
- In its definition of “child abuse or neglect,” Colorado includes instances where an infant tests positive at birth for a controlled substance. The state also funds substance abuse treatment for pregnant women and prohibits the use of drug tests performed as part of prenatal care in criminal prosecutions.
- Women must be informed of the availability of stillbirth certificates and be given the option to request one following a miscarriage or stillbirth.
- Colorado maintains no laws regarding human cloning, destructive embryo research, fetal experimentation, human egg harvesting, or assisted reproductive technologies.
- Voluntary financial contributions to the “Adult Stem Cells Cure Fund” may be designated on state income tax forms and an account for the proceeds has been created in the state treasury.
- Colorado has enacted legislation preventing genetic information from being used to deny access to healthcare insurance or Medicare supplement insurance coverage.
End of Life Laws:
- Colorado law expressly criminalizes assisted suicide. Assisting a suicide is considered manslaughter.
- Colorado protects healthcare providers from liability for manslaughter when prescribing or administering palliative care prescriptions to terminally ill patients. However, the statute does not permit assisted suicide.
- The state maintains a Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Paradigm Program.
Healthcare Freedom of Conscience Laws:
Participation in Abortion:
- A hospital staff member or person associated with or employed by a hospital who objects in writing and on religious or moral grounds may not be required to participate in medical procedures that result in abortion.
- A hospital is not required to admit a woman for the purpose of performing an abortion.
- Private institutions and physicians, as well as their respective agents, may refuse to provide contraceptives and information about contraceptives based upon religious or conscientious objections. In addition, county and city employees may refuse on religious grounds to provide family planning and birth control services.
Participation in Research Harmful to Human Life:
- Colorado currently provides no protection for the rights of healthcare providers who conscientiously object to participation in human cloning, destructive embryo research, or other forms of immoral medical research, which violate a provider’s moral or religious belief.
What Happened in 2013:
- Colorado enacted a “one-victim law”—providing for enhanced criminal penalties when a pregnant woman is assaulted—but not recognizing the child as a potential second victim.
- The state enacted a measure allocating funding to its “Adult Stem Cells Cure Fund.”
- Colorado also enacted a measure requiring verification of Medicaid benefits (when applicable) before a healthcare provider may provide counseling relating to Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment (MOST).
Recommendations for Colorado
Women’s Protection Project Priorities:
- Women’s Health Defense Act (5-month abortion limitation)
- Women’s Right to Know Act with reflection period
- Women’s Health Protection Act (abortion clinic regulations)
- Parental Consent for Abortion Act
- Parental Involvement Enhancement Act
- Abortion-Inducing Drugs Safety Act
- Child Protection Act
- Abortion Mandate Opt-Out Act
- Women’s Ultrasound Right to Know Act
- Coercive Abuse Against Mothers Prohibition Act
- Defunding the Abortion Industry and Advancing Women’s Health Act
- Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act
- Joint Resolution Commending Pregnancy Resource Centers
Legal Recognition and Protection for the Unborn:
- Crimes Against the Unborn Child Act
- Unborn Wrongful Death Act (for pre-viable child)
- Born-Alive Infant Protection Act
- Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act
- Human Cloning Prohibition Act
- Destructive Embryo Research Act
- Prohibition on Public Funding of Human Cloning and Destructive Embryo Research Act
Healthcare Freedom of Conscience:
- Healthcare Freedom of Conscience Act